Ancient Astronomy and Celestial Divination

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Noel M. Swerdlow
MIT Press, 1999 - Science - 378 pages
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In the ancient world, the collection and study of celestial phenomena and the intepretation of their prophetic significance, especially as applied to kings and nations, were closely related sciences carried out by the same scholars. Both ancient sources and modern research agree that astronomy and celestial divination arose in Babylon. Only in the late nineteenth century, however, did scholars begin to identify and decipher the original Babylonian sources, and the process of understanding those sources has been long and difficult.This volume presents recent work on Babylonian celestial divination and on the Greek inheritors of the Babylonian tradition. Both philological and mathematical work are included. The essays shed new light on all of the known textual sources, including the omen series Enuma Anu Enlil, which contains omens from as far back as the early second or even third millennium, and the earliest personal horoscopes, from about 400 B.C., as well as the Astronomical Diaries, ephemerides, and other observational and mathematical texts. One essay concerns astronomical papyri that confirm the extensive transmission of Babylonian methods into Greek; a study of Ptolemy's lunar theory suggests that Ptolemy relied more on his own observations than previously thought; and an analysis of Theon's commentary on Ptolemy's Handy Tables shows that Theon explicated their meaning both conscientiously and competently.Contributors : Asger Aaboe, Alan C. Bowen, Lis Brack-Bernsen, John P. Britton, Bernard R. Goldstein, Gerd Gra hoff, Hermann Hunger, Alexander Jones, Erica Reiner, F. Rochberg, N. M. Swerdlow, Anne Tihon, C. B. F. Walker.

 

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Contents

BABYLONIAN CELESTIAL DIVINATION
21
THE TEXTS AND THEIR
39
BABYLONIAN OBSERVATIONS OF SATURN DURING
61
NONMATHEMATICAL ASTRONOMICAL TEXTS AND THEIR
77
Gerd GraBhoff
97
LUNAR DATA
149
A NEW MATHEMATICAL TEXT FROM THE ASTRONOMICAL
179
THE DERIVATION OF THE PARAMETERS OF BABYLONIAN
255
A CLASSIFICATION OF ASTRONOMICAL TABLES
299
THE ROLE OF OBSERVATIONS IN PTOLEMYS LUNAR
341
THEON OF ALEXANDRIA AND PTOLEMYS HANDY
357
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
371
Copyright

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About the author (1999)

is Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Department of History at the University of Chicago.

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